Working through black belt is an extremely hard—often frustrating—activity that brings a lot of self-doubt and procrastination. The requirements for second Dan (AKA second degree black belt) have been pushing my limits lately, particularly the creation of one’s own form.

While working through this process I realized creating a  new form isn’t just a “complex series of motions intended for self-defense training to be practiced as if you were being attacked from all sides.” That would be the long winded definition I spout out when new students ask “what are forms?” or “what are forms supposed to teach us?”. I wasn’t wrong; that is what Poomse are intended to be. But saying a Poomse is a practice exercise is like describing a book as “a collection of words on paper intended for reading.”  It just doesn’t grasp the full holistic nature of what it can be. Sure, you can produce a string of moves and techniques that showcase your skill. But do you really want your book to just be “a collection of words”?

The challenge when creating forms or techniques is to think about a theme; think about what it represents. The Tae-Guk forms, for example, represent the power of the natural elements and states of the universe: Earth, Fire, Water, Wind, Heaven, Thunder and more. These themes influence the way the form is done and are illustrated in the motions themselves.

So when you decide to create your own form, what do you want to say? Do you want to tell a story about your childhood, about growth? A happy story or a sad one? Will your moves be light and uplifting or heavy and dark? Does your form illustrate a flawless victory, an underdog rising to the occasion, or even a loss or tragedy? The words that come to mind when watching or performing are something you can control (at least as much as any author can control their reader). Embed your form with meaning and relevance and you will find yourself changed also. You will become more invested in it; you will spend more time on it, work harder on it, and unfortunately, never think it is quite completed.

All things are dynamic and ever changing, including people. This form is not a representation of who you are for the rest of your life. It is a snapshot, a depiction of things that are in the moment you lifted the pen from the page and closed this book. On the road you travel as a martial artist you will write many of these “books” and each one offers a brand new opportunity to preserve a portion of you for many years to come. In this perspective, planning a new form starts to get really exciting.


Mr. Adam Poetter,

Head Instructor – TC TaeKwonDo